Diandre Wilson Leads NJIT to its First 2-0 Start in 12 Years

Diandre Wilson Leads NJIT to its First 2-0 Start in 12 Years

VESTAL, NY – Senior Diandre Wilson scored a game-high 21 points off the bench to lead visiting NJIT past Binghamton University, 74-57, at Dr. Bai Lee Court at Events Center in Vestal, N.Y.  With the win, the Highlanders have started 2-0 for the first time since 2006-07 – their inaugural season as a Division-I program.
 
Wilson, who missed most of the preseason with a knee injury, also hit the game-winning basket in NJIT's overtime win over Colgate in the season-opener on Tuesday. His total of 21 points was two shy of his career record of 23, set at Buffalo om Dec. 28, 2017.
 
Freshman forward Souleymane Diakite also turned in his first huge performance as a collegiate player, recording 11 points and nine rebounds in relief of senior Mohamed Bendary – who had eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds of his own. In the absence of Abdul Lewis, the two combined for 19 points, 19 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
 
Despite the gaudy stats from the players above, sophomore Zach Cooks was again just as responsible as anyone for this road victory. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native started the Highlanders' surge right before the half.
 
With NJIT leading, 25-20, in the waning moments of the first half, Cooks recorded two steals and two layups over the final 11 seconds to balloon the lead to nine. The Highlanders never looked back from there.
 
Cooks finished with 12 points and game-highs in both assists (4) and steals (4) – all while tying his career high with six rebounds. He also played the first 38 minutes of the game before finally sitting down once the game was completely under control.
 
The other NJIT double-digit scorer was sophomore Shawndale Jones, who proved to be a major spark of the bench with 12 points, two rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block. Nine off his points came early in early stages of the second half to help build the lead to a game-high 18 at 69-51 with 2:52 remaining. Guided by Diakite, Wilson and Jones, NJIT held an enormous 32-5 advantage in points off the bench.
 
The Highlanders also used a strong defensive effort to coast to the victory – holding the Bearcats to just 31.6-percent shooting (18-for-57). They also limited talented freshman Sam Sessoms, who had 27 points in the opener, to 13 points on 4-for-15 shooting.
 
Meanwhile, NJIT shot 44.3-percent from the floor and held edges in both rebounding (45-38) and turnovers (9 to 12).
 
Cooks and senior Wilson led all scorers at the half with seven. Bendary, who scored NJIT's first six points of the night, had six points and a half-high-tying five rebounds. The Highlanders held the Bearcats to 7-for-27 (25.9%) shooting in the first half.
 
The Highlanders now return home to Newark for a two-game homestand, starting with Brown University (0-1) on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Wellness and Events Center (WEC) in Newark.
 
Last season, the Bears eked out 70-69 win in Providence, RI. In that game, Wilson had a contested game-winning attempt from deep that fell a hair short just before the buzzer.
 
One year earlier, NJIT squeaked by with a 75-73 win in the first-ever meeting between programs on Jan. 4, 2017, at the Fleisher Athletic Center.
 
NJIT will look to go 3-0 for the first time since 1996-97, which was their last year as a Division-III program.

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